Lars Hall and Petter Johansson from the Choice Blindness Lab have, together with collaborators at IRCAM, Paris and University of Tokoy published an article titled “Covert digital manipulation of vocal emotion alter speakers’ emotional states in a congruent direction” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Graphical Abstract Covert Manipulation of Vocal Emotion

Graphical Abstract Covert Manipulation of Vocal Emotion

We created a digital audio platform to covertly modify the emotional tone of participants’ voices while they talked toward happiness, sadness, or fear. Independent listeners perceived the transformations as natural examples of emotional speech, but the participants remained unaware of the manipulation, indicating that we are not continuously monitoring our own emotional signals. Instead, as a consequence of listening to their altered voices, the emotional state of the participants changed in congruence with the emotion portrayed. This result is the first evidence, to our knowledge, of peripheral feedback on emotional experience in the auditory domain. This finding is of great significance, because the mechanisms behind the production of vocal emotion are virtually unknown.

Aucouturier, J.J., Johansson, P., Hall, L., Segnini, R., Mercadiéf, L., & Watanabe, K. (2016). Covert digital manipulation of vocal emotion alter speakers’ emotional states in a congruent direction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1506552113 . [Open Access Link]